African Americans in World War II
Courtesy of the National Archives.
The 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion was organized in April 1942 and saw action from October 1944 until Germany's surrender, most notably in the Battle of the Bulge. The most famous member of the battalion was Lieutenant Jack "Jackie" Robinson, who would spearhead the integration of professional baseball shortly after completing his military service. During training in the Jim Crow South, Robinson was cited for insubordination and nearly court-martialed for refusing to move to the back of a bus when the driver—a white commissioned officer—ordered him to do so. The incident serves as a reminder that many seeds of the civil rights movement were planted during World War II. Despite such racist episodes, the 761st performed with distinction in Europe. This photograph from 5 November 1944 shows Corporal Carlton Chapman, a machine-gunner in an M-4 tank, attached to a Motor Transport unit near Nancy, France.